Uptown is one of the many neighborhoods in Pittsburgh that experienced decades of neglect. For this neighborhood, the neglect was despite Uptown being sandwiched between Oakland and downtown, two places among the state’s strongest economic regions. Zipping through Uptown from Oakland to downtown on Fifth Avenue or from downtown to Oakland on Forbes Avenue, it is easy to overlook or dismiss the hodgepodge of ruined home foundations turning back to forest; scattered vacant lots, parking lots, and industrial uses; and the intricate architectural details on abandoned and renovated townhomes.
In recent years, new buildings started springing up here and there. Some of these new projects are the work of the two institutions in the neighborhood: UPMC Mercy Hospital and Duquesne University. Others are the work of a variety of commercial and residential developers. Two reasons for this recent investment are the proposed Bus Rapid Transit system, which will eventually run through the neighborhood, and the in-progress redevelopment of the Lower Hill, an adjacent neighborhood.
The Uptown community saw these changes coming and prepared. Between 2015 and 2017, the community organization Uptown Partners collaborated UPMC Mercy, Duquesne University, the City of Pittsburgh, and others to create the EcoInnovation District Plan and the Uptown Public Realm zoning district. The plan and new zoning district are intended to guide future development and leverage their economic investment for the greater good of the neighborhood. Ideally, this will reduce the number of those who will be left behind.
This blog post is part of an on-going series watching the changes in Uptown. Periodically, approximately every six months, I return to the neighborhood to take new photographs of the same areas. In addition, I include links to articles about the project that I’ve encountered since the previous post in the series. At the end of the post, there is a map showing the location of the neighborhood and links to the previous posts in the series.
Development activity is picking up in Uptown. Walking around the neighborhood for this update required skirting closed sidewalks, uneven pavement, and construction staging of materials and equipment. The new activity includes:
- PWSA’s (Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority) replacement of the watermain and lead service lines along Forbes Avenue
- Evidence of demolition work on the long boarded-up Seneca Street rowhouses (image 3)
- Demolition progress for the development of tech flex project that was briefly held up last year due to community concerns of gentrification (image 6a)
- A new project for apartments and retail going up on 5th Avenue while the buildings around it appear to be preparing for renovation or demolition (image 8a)
- Duquesne University’s next project to demolish and build on the site across the street from its newly rebuilt fieldhouse (images 21a & 22a)
Uptown in the News & on the Web:
Next Pittsburgh reported on the start of construction for the new 51-unit apartment building on 5th Avenue (June 3, 2020), captured in image 8a above, and the opening of Duquesne University’s UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse (February 1, 2021), shown in image 22a above. The Pittsburgh Business Times shared what students will experience in Duquesne’s new College of Osteopathic Medicine (May 13, 2021) that is being built across from the fieldhouse (images 21a and 22a above).
Uptown Partners began to install free community wi-fi in the neighborhood (Pittsburgh Business Times, November 10, 2020).
And more federal funds have been directed toward the ongoing development of the Bus Rapid Transit system through Uptown to connect downtown and Oakland (Pittsburgh Business Times, June 11, 2021).
Previous posts in series:
Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction (November 15, 2019)
Moral Economics (September 1, 2019)